Ready for Easter?

This is holy week, the week that spans from Palm Sunday to Easter.  For the disciples of Jesus, this week was an emotional roller coaster.  They had a hard time getting their minds around what happened.  I do as well. First, for the disciples, there is the exhilaration of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The crowds cheered Jesus and praised him with the ancient song of prophecy about the coming Messiah.  The hearts of the disciples swelled with expectancy.  They were so certain about Jesus’ victory that they argued among themselves about who would have which posts in the cabinet of his messianic kingdom.

But, rejection was fast on the heels of triumph.  Before Jesus even entered the city, the religious leaders shut down the spontaneous outburst of worship.  Not only did they fail to welcome Jesus, they hatched a plot to kill him. One of twelve joined in their conspiracy.  Each day Jesus taught and preached giving people hope that their dreams would be fulfilled.

Thursday, Passover Day, ended with celebration.  Passover is a feast day in Israel unlike any other.  It is the day the people celebrate the greatest salvation event of their history.  Over a thousand years before, God showed up and liberated them from the Egyptians.  Each year the table is filled with lamb, and wine along with symbolic foods.  The evening meal is punctuated by the story of redemption retold, shouts of joy and the wine of freedom.

With the disciples, however, Jesus ends the meal in curious sadness. He informs them that the imagery of the meal will become the story of his life.  He is the true lamb. His body will be broken.  His blood will be shed.  And, truth be told, within 24 hours, what Jesus promised is fulfilled: a garden arrest, the mockery of a trial, savagely brutal beatings, a Roman cross of torture, and a shameful defeat in death.

From Friday to Sunday morning is a time of waiting. Jesus descended fully into death. The creed says that Jesus made the trip to hell for us and for our redemption.  During that time, the depression of the disciples set in deep. Their dreams died with Jesus.  Even though Jesus taught them about his resurrection, they can’t see beyond the cross. And, how could they? How could they be ready for the empty tomb? How could their hearts keep up?

There have been many times when my heart could not keep pace.  Life moved too quickly for me to process the pain or for the joy to fully register. When my friend Josh died five years ago, I was not prepared. First, I struggled getting my heart around the fact that he was gone. Second, I couldn’t believe God allowed it to happen. How could this be part of his plan?  I had my own plans, too, and they were nothing like God’s.  What had I missed?

I felt the same bewilderment a little over a year ago when my friend Paul died very suddenly. It made no sense to me (as if God’s way should)!  As I look back I can see we have a place in our hearts we can hide things away to process later. We do this because we are not ready or we don’t believe we have the resources.  And once we put them in hiding, we would rather not bring them out. We don’t want to feel the pain.  We have no desire to revisit the moment or dredge up the thing we worked so hard to suppress. And, why should we? Why not simply move on with life?

The truth that I have learned is that we can never really move on with life until we deal with it.  Our heart’s growth will be retarded, limited. We become stuck.  And then we find unhealthy ways of coping.  Hidden things want to come out, and they will in one way or another, but not in healthy ways. We will do those things than keep our heart numb, that divert our attention, and that leave us more cut off from what we are feeling deep inside.  The end of this is not good.

I can see much of what I struggle with in the disciples.  I believe they doubt Jesus’ resurrection because they have not yet processed his horrible death.  Their hearts just cannot process it all.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:44-47

This has changed my thinking about Holy Week.  First I have learned that I need to take time to pray and think about it.  If I don’t do that (and there have been many years that I have not devoted the time to do so), then I miss true Easter joy.  The day rings hollow.  I cannot appreciate the light because I have not allowed my heart to experience the deep darkness of Thursday and Friday.  Second, I have also learned that I have to honest about what I am feeling, and learn to take it to Jesus.  I find that Christians have been taught they must always be nice, never angry, never question, never allow your emotions to get the best of you. But, this means being dishonest. This is not the way to life.

This Sunday is Easter.  Are you ready?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by joe on April 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    i truly look forward to reading your post. I really appreciate your wonderful spirit and love filled words. This one is no different. however I need to take exception to what you referred to as “imagery” and to respectfully let you know that your “imagery” is my salvation. A mystical sacramental offering that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I wish it were for you too.


    • Posted by dwcarson on April 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Joe, thanks for your comment. I believe we spiritually feed upon Christ when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. In the post I am referring to all of the imagery of the meal, the portions that we do not typically discuss. God bless you and thank you for reading!



  2. Posted by marykay Klim on April 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm


    I have missed your messages, clear examples and personal sharing. It was a blessing, to me, to stumble onto this in the FB newsfeed.

    Thank you for sharing in their forum. I pray that you all will be blessed this Easter season with a renewed vision and hope.



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